Medical professionals are studying the effects of marijuana on strokes and heart failure
The use of marijuana is now widespread. More and more countries are loosening their laws and marijuana consumption is often already unpunished. Researchers have now found that consuming marijuana increases the risk of stroke and heart failure.
Scientists at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia found that marijuana use increases the risk of stroke or heart failure. The doctors published the results of their study at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.
Current research is concerned with cardiovascular effects
Today, marijuana, medically known as cannabis, is medically legalized or self-sufficient in more than half of all U.S. states. However, a recent study sheds new light on the health effects of the drug on cardiovascular health of consumers. While marijuana research to date has focused primarily on pulmonary and psychiatric complications, the new study is one of a handful of studies that examined the effects on the cardiovascular system, the authors explain.
Doctors need to know the side effects of marijuana
Marijuana increases the risk of stroke and heart failure even after adjusting data for demographic factors, other health conditions, and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking or alcohol consumption, the scientists say. As with all other medications, whether prescribed or not, doctors try to determine the exact effects and possible side effects of cannabis, says the author Dr. Aditi Kalla from Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. It is extremely important for doctors to know such effects so that patients can receive better advice when, for example, they want to know about the safety of cannabis or have a prescription for cannabis.
Study analyzes data from more than 1,000 hospitals
The study used data from the so-called Nationwide Inpatient Sample, which contained the health records of patients from more than 1,000 hospitals. The researchers used the records of subjects between the ages of 18 and 55. All of these participants were discharged from the hospital between 2009 and 2010. At the time, the use of cannabis was still illegal in most states in the United States, the scientists explain.
Marijuana use leads to significantly increased risks
Marijuana use was diagnosed in approximately 1.5 percent (316,000) of more than 20 million health records. When comparing cardiovascular disease rates in patients without the use of marijuana, the researchers found that marijuana use was associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, and sudden cardiac death.
Marijuana use increases the risk of stroke by 26 percent
Marijuana use has also been linked to a variety of factors related to cardiovascular risk, such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and alcohol consumption. After the experts adjusted the analysis to these factors, the use of marijuana has been linked to a 26 percent increase in stroke risk. The scientists also found a 10 percent increase in risk of developing heart failure.
Cannabis receptors in the heart muscle cells could have a negative effect
Research into cell cultures has shown that cardiac muscle cells have cannabis receptors. Such receptors are relevant for so-called contractility, the authors say. This suggests that the receptors could be a mechanism by which the use of marijuana affects the cardiovascular system.
Results found do not necessarily refer to the general population
The data sets used in the study were based on hospital files. For this reason, the results obtained do not necessarily reflect the general population, the doctors explain. The data also did not allow the researchers to consider the amount or frequency of marijuana use, the purpose for which it was used (recreational or medical), or the delivery mechanism (smoking or ingestion).
Doctors hope for further insights into the effects of marijuana in the future
The growing trend towards legalizing marijuana could cause patients and doctors to speak more openly about the use of marijuana in the future. The scientists hope that this could lead to better data collection and further insights into the effects and possible side effects. (as)